Review: Pilot Season: Stealth #1

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Imagine you just found out that your father is a Superhero. THE Superhero. Now imagine that his doctor has just diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s. How do you take care of a superhero who can’t remember who you are?

Pilot Season: Stealth #1

Written by Robert Kirkman
Pencils by Sheldon Mitchell
Inks by Joe Weems V and Rick Basaldua
Colors by Arif Prianto of IFS
Letters by Troy Peteri
Logo and Book Design by Phil Smith
Cover by Marc Silvestri and Sunny Gho of IFS
Published by Top Cow

Previously in Pilot Season: Stealth: There is no previously in. This is the first issue. Pilot Season is a series of one-shot issues (Stealth, Murderer, Demonic, Stellar, and Hardcore) that showcase original tales by Robert Kirkman. At the end of one-shots fans will be able to vote on which story they would like to see developed further. So if you like any of these titles, head on over to Top Cow’s website and get voting!

WHAT HAPPENED?

Todd heads home from buying a humidifier for his father while talking to his ex-wife on the phone about getting together to copy some old photo albums. Meanwhile, Stealth has taken to the night skies and descends on a group of teens spray painting an alley. Star struck, the teens promise to stop tagging in exchange for an autograph or a picture. Stealth proceeds to beat the living snot out of the youngsters while proclaiming “No one is above the law.” Just as Todd steps through the front door of his home he hears a loud thud coming from his fathers’ room. He runs upstairs to discover that his father is in fact the superhero Stealth and what’s worse is that he thinks that Todd is his dead brother.

Todd meets with his ex-wife for lunch to borrow the photos and talk about their teenage daughter who is away at college. While very distracted, Todd blames his short attention span on not getting enough sleep and excuses himself to take his father to a doctor’s appointment. At the doctor’s office, Todd speaks alone with the doctor who verifies that his father has Alzheimer’s disease but still wants to run some more tests because he’s showing unusual brain activity. The next day, Todd is driving home talking to his daughter about her dislike for her mother when traffic is stopped because an injured Stealth is lying in the street. Todd runs up to Stealth and tells him to fly home as Stealth wonders how his son knows his identity.

Todd arrives home to find his father seemingly alright and claiming he was attacked, when in truth, he was hit by a car. Stealth again mistakes Todd for his dead brother Eric as Todd busts into a fit of anger and frustration from having to deal with his fathers’ memory loss. Todd calms down and promises to make diner when suddenly his father is armored up and coming at him. Stealth knocks Todd around while asking where “it” is and that if he doesn’t get “it” the girl will die. After a sound beating, Todd is able to whisper through a swollen mouth of blood who he is. Stealth comes to his senses and holds his son crying while saying that the beings who gave him his suit will return soon and make his mind better again.

I CAN RELATE

I can’t remember the last time I was truly stunned after reading a new concept story. While I don’t particularly care for the relationship between Todd and his daughter or ex-wife, I find the relationship with his father to be incredibly deep. For those of you who have to deal with loved ones who have partial memory loss, this story is very relatable. My grandmother experienced mild memory loss right before she passed away a few years ago and my uncle is in the very beginning of slight memory loss himself. When Todd has his outburst at the end, I can feel his frustration at having to constantly remind his father of simple things like who you are. There is a bit of sorrow and guilt in your anger and that’s exactly what Todd was going through. I’m happy to see that Kirkman wrote Todd to understand that he wasn’t angry at his father but rather at the disease that was in him.

OH NO HE DIDN’T

The other part of this story that I’m sure most people are going to talk about is the way Stealth brutally beats on the kids in the alley. I’m sure many peoples jaws were on the floor when Stealth back handed the first kid. You’re probably torn wondering if you think its way over the line or if maybe Stealth has the right idea. Do all levels of crime need to be treated the same or does the punishment vastly out weigh the crime? Personally I liked seeing the kids get smacked around. Despite their promises, I had a feeling that they would have been back out to deface another alley in a short period of time. Sure, maybe the last kid didn’t need his jaw broken, but a little scare like that goes a long way. Or maybe I’ve just lived near Philly for too long.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

This story raises so many interesting thoughts and concerns. You can’t help but wonder if you were in Todd’s shoes what would you do? On one hand, you have your father, the legendary superhero, who has saved more lives than you can count and you don’t want to disrespect that by ask him to throw in the towel. On the other hand, you see that he’s a danger to himself and others (especially you) because he can no longer see where the battle is. What do you do in a situation like that? Who do you turn to for help? Who can you trust to keep your father’s secret while getting him the help he needs? What happens if you talk your father into quitting but he forgets his promise to you? I don’t envy Todd. Part of me really wants to see this story continue to see what kind of resolution will make everything right again. Part of me sympathizes so much with Todd that I NEED to know what to do.

SUITS ME

The art is nothing short of amazing. Stealth’s suit is an awesome piece of work that seems to be one part Batman with its ninja like style and one part Spawn by turning into what he needs it to be (either wings or projectiles). I love all the different functions of the suit and how its different forms are visualized. I especially love how the wings come all the way out to the forearms much like Stratos’ from He-man. (I always thought he had a cool look.) When out of the armor, Todd’s father has such a kind face that you don’t want to be hard on him for his memory. His gentle gaze tells you to your core that his is a good man that just gets confused. You can see that same goodness in Todd but also the capacity to one day have enough and give in to his anger.

READ THIS COMIC

I would be very sad indeed if this story doesn’t see a second issue. The art matches the story telling and is simply amazing. It really raises too many emotions, questions and worries to not be finished. I give Pilot Season: Stealth #1 five out of five stars. While I don’t care for the other characters, I feel that the story of Todd and his father is strong enough to carry the title with ease.

Rating: ★★★★★